Surprisingly, there has not been any decision I would go back and change from the early years.
There were failures in our business, but that is the nature of risk taking. I can look back and probably say that I should have decided to work a lot harder, but there were no traditional business decisions that I would reverse – good or bad.
Failure is a great teacher when studied in context.
Failure in the business context can often act like practice in a sports context. Adjusting process is a result of learning from failure. If you fail in a sport because of poor execution, but do nothing to change that execution, you will always fail to make the professional level. The same goes for a business—if you do not change process to adjust for performance failures, eventually the business totally fails.
Failures and its consequent improvements can majorly contribute to molding success in a business. Failure to change in the face of failure is a different result!
“In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” — Proverbs 14:23
The one decision I wish I could go back and change is to optimize my time invested throughout a decision making process. I can recall an argument Ben and I had a couple years ago. We simply didn’t see eye-to-eye on this particular “thing.” It was one of the moments when escalating differences and other outside stresses helped percolate our conversation into an…errr…fruitless argument. The end result? Well, words I wish I could take back (at least the way I phrased them) and not a lot of change otherwise. Lesson learned?
To the degree of impact a decision has to the bottom line, to that degree I need to invest time processing the decision. No more, no less.
Too often I squandered time and energy on conversations that were not directly impacting forward progress.
The upside of having two principals in a business is the privilege of a more well-rounded perspective, bringing more stability through greater insight — especially when one principal is an INTP and other is an ESFJ. However, the downside of having two principals is trying to effectively move past opposing views for the greater good of the company — especially when one principal is an INTP and other is an ESFJ. Go figure that one out!
Even with critical decisions, there has to be a disciplined process to prevent wasted time.
Through many years of making decisions within a team environment, I have learned that discipline starts with clarifying the specific decision to be made. This includes throwing alternatives to that decision on the table. Next, all relevant information needs to be collected in order to make the most informed decision.
This is the step that so often gets overlooked in the process, and I have learned it is the fatal part of making decision. If I do not perform due diligence in gathering data before discussing with others, it becomes devoid of facts and full of opinions — often extending the process much longer than necessary and exposing the decision makers to error or frustration. After the facts are laid out, an intelligent decision should be made. Once made, the decision can be evaluated to ensure it was the right one, and that no unintended consequences to that decision have arisen.
We didn't learn this process right away.
Ultimately, I wish I could go back in time and speed the pace of many of our decisions. But, as much as it is a process, decision making is also an exercise. The more one does it, the stronger one becomes in it. The more one does it with a particular person or group of people, the more unity and predictability seems to occur throughout the process and ultimately in the decision itself.
Each time I now engage in the decision making process for our business, there is a resounding question in my mind: how much impact does this decision have on the business? The answer to this question will directly impact how much time I spend talking about it.